Bare Peat

Bare peat is when there is no vegetation growing on the peat surface and the peat itself is completely exposed. This can occur over vast areas or in small patches. It is caused by a number of factors including livestock poaching and overgrazing, vehicle damage, peat extraction for fuel use and the most widespread cause; wild or badly managed fires.

How is bare peat restored?

Brashing

The technique most commonly used by Yorkshire Peat Partnership to revegetate bare peat is to spread bryophyte-rich heather or cotton grass brash. The aim of this approach is to use the brash to stabilise the surface of the peat to enable conditions for bryophytes to quickly establish and provide a vegetated surface for the subsequent growth of sphagnum mosses, dwarf shrubs and other specialist bog species.

The brash is spread by hand or with very low ground pressure vehicles in the autumn or winter. If the area to be restored is remote from the donor area then brash must be delivered by helicopter.

Brash is spread to a depth of about 1cm and to a density where some of the ground is still visible. This prevents the formation of a mulch which would prevent vegetation growth.


Dwarf Shrub Seeding

In some circumstances it will be desirable to introduce dwarf shrub seed to the brashed areas. Yorkshire Peat Partnership follows the recommendation of Moors for the Future and uses a dwarf shrub seed mix of 90 : 10 Calluna vulgaris : Erica tetralix at a rate of 650g per hectare. The seed may need to be treated depending on the application method used.


Sphagnum Application

One of the main objectives in restoring bare peaty areas is to re-establish a Sphagnum moss layer as this provides the long-term stability the peat needs and re-starts the peat-forming and carbon sequestering processes that restoration is trying to achieve.

There are currently two main methods for establishing Sphagnum on bare peat areas – the use of cut fragments and the use of micro-propagated Sphagnum in a growth medium called Beadamoss. The Yorkshire Peat Partnership’s preferred method is to sustainably harvest Sphagnum fragments from a suitable donor site.

Sphagnum is spread by hand or with very low ground pressure vehicles at a rate of approximately 80 capitulum fragments per m2.

If donor sites are used for brash and Sphagnum spp., it is important that they are treated as sensitively as the restoration sites. Checks are also be done to prevent the spread of disease or infestations to the restoration site.


Reduction of Water Flow

Over large areas of bare peat, water flow may need to be reduced by staking heather bales or constructing turf covered peat bunds to form a barrier across any small gullies.

For further details of the methods above, see 'Technical Specification 6 - Bare peat revegetation' on the Technical Specifications page.